Join 3,556 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Raise your flag!
March 6, 2008 12:16 AM   Subscribe

Björk, in Shanghai, on Tibet: Declare Independence! [YouTube]

Bjork's Shanghai surprise: a cry of 'Tibet!' - Bjork's protest a sign of things to come for China - Björk Exposes China's Greatest Weakness - Bjork Shouts Out To Tibet During Shanghai Show - Chinese furious at 'Tibet-independence' Bjork

Shanghai Daily says "Let's hope that Bjork's controversial parting comments do not lessen the likelihood of local music fans enjoying more of these acts in the future" without offering readers any hint as to what the comments were about.

Declare Independence on mefi previously: 1, 2
posted by finite (80 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Possibly breaking an unspoken rule here, but this made me laff:

Bjork begins shouting "Tibet" during live concert in China. Chinese authorities reportedly highly angered until someone explained that shouting out random non-sequiturs is pretty much her entire act.

I have never "got" Bjork.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:27 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shouting out "Tibet" in the middle of a song called "Declare Independence" is not a non sequitur.
posted by grouse at 12:46 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have never "got" Bjork.

A lot of mefites don't "get" Marcel Duchamp, either. Doesn't make him any less influential.
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:53 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, finite... thanks for the post! I love the tune, the ReacTable, and the fact that she took such a big risk to speak her mind (surely, she could've been detained?).

Rock n' roll hasn't done anything like this in a while - upsetting the authorities was a big part of its original raison d'etre.
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:56 AM on March 6, 2008


Detain Bjork? Have you seen what she's like in airports?
posted by seanyboy at 12:59 AM on March 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


After "Tibet, Tibet" I couldn't make out what she was saying, so I reckon it's a safe bet that pretty much no one else among her Chinese audience could make it out, either. Probably would've been a good idea for her to learn how to deliver that short message in Chinese. Or play back a pre-pepared sample of a native speaker saying it. Course, then it wouldn't have been Björk saying it, so I can see where she wouldn't have wanted to go that route.

Helluva laser show she had, though. Hell, haven't seen anything like that since Close To the Edge-era Yes.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:32 AM on March 6, 2008


flapjax, she was saying RAISE YOUR FLAG! DECLARE INDEPENDENCE!
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:08 AM on March 6, 2008


'Tibet!'? I think they misheard her. All she ever says to me is "Ah yes! Perhaps, yes! I can also be MANY people inside of my mind! Do you enjoy grapefruit?"
To which, of course, the correct response is, "Lets make some popcorn with fuzzy backdoor paper clip soup in my crowded monkey castle!"
posted by carsonb at 2:15 AM on March 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


You can get a small flavour of the fury from the usual Internet defenders of the indivisibility of the Motherland on the Danwei thread on the incident.
posted by Abiezer at 2:18 AM on March 6, 2008


Wow. So that's Rebellion.

Boy, she sure showed Beijing what's what.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:38 AM on March 6, 2008


Iraq, declare independence! Afghanistan, declare independence! I bet the American newspapers would love that.
posted by stammer at 2:46 AM on March 6, 2008


>Wow. So that's Rebellion. Boy, she sure showed Beijing what's what.

What a facile comment.

Ignoring the fact that you could not have expected Björk to leap off the stage, Rambo style with a couple of sub machine guns in hand and head towards the Communist Party HQ to overturn the regime singlehandedly (although I'd have loved to have seen that YouTube!), what are you actually saying? That standing on a stage in a country reknowned for "disappearing" and/or killing even minor dissenters and saying something calculatedly inflammatory is not a rebellion against said authority? That a single event can't be the catalyst for a rebellion?

Even the fact that we're having this discussion has given weight, gravitas and validity to Björk's statement, a statement which *even if it only costs her further gigs and sales within China* could cost her a great deal, yet she still felt the need to make it and took the opportunity to do so.

So, take your snark and go and do something useful with it - here, you're just a blowhard.
posted by benzo8 at 3:01 AM on March 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


Looks like she puts on quite the lightshow. Playing and speaking your mind in a country where free speech is verboten is better than not playing there at all, I guess. Wonder if the audience will get in trouble for being there. "You listen to Björk = you dissent!"
posted by dabitch at 3:15 AM on March 6, 2008


benzo8 - I don't think she gives that much of a shit about money.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:55 AM on March 6, 2008


I think that the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party is in for an entertaining year. They'll come to regret having got the Olympic Games...
posted by Skeptic at 4:03 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


what are you actually saying? That standing on a stage in a country reknowned for "disappearing" and/or killing even minor dissenters and saying something calculatedly inflammatory is not a rebellion against said authority? That a single event can't be the catalyst for a rebellion?

Call me out for being facile, yeah fine, if you think Bjørk's comments were incendiary and will have meaningful, concrete effect then yeah, totally, I was being facile.

I don't, at all, see this as being a rebellion-catalyzing single event. Just as Sinead O'Connor ripping up the picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live, or Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Mexico City Olympics were not rebellion-catalyzing events. Galvanizing, provocative and laudable, they become touchstones of an era's cultural zeitgeist, but are not the incidents which provoke "rebellion" (or, particularly, huge social change).

Her statement is worthwhile and relevant and should be said, but to conflate it to the status of anything other than a performer's opinion, stated in the face of a governments' desire she not do so, I think is perhaps over-valuing it.

What's more - Bjørk goes home after the show. She doesn't stay in Shanghai and live out the rest of her life with those words, that incident shading a healthy dose of her daily transactions and all transactions she has with *her, in this case* government. Something about that just makes it all less trenchant to me and harder to take seriously.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:04 AM on March 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well a call for rebellion probably would have been more useful in, you know, Tibet, given how ethnic Chinese feel about the issue, but hey, good on her.
posted by Jimbob at 4:48 AM on March 6, 2008


Shut up and play yer... er... whatever it is you play.
posted by three blind mice at 5:09 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I used to feel ennui about Björk; now I have some Respect to feel with my boredom.
posted by adamvasco at 5:17 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I've Been reading about reincarnation, and the buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings, they're just like us. So i say fuck the buddhists."
Bjork
posted by Brocktoon at 6:24 AM on March 6, 2008


I think that the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party is in for an entertaining year. They'll come to regret having got the Olympic Games...

My thoughts exactly. Here's a great idea, let's let invite the whole world over to discover that a) the glitz, glamour and amazement that is the Chinese juggernaut is a facade and b) to allow the Chinese people to meet them and to discover that the glitz, glamour and amazement of the Chinese juggernaut is a facade (those that haven't figured that out for themselves yet and made millions exploiting it and then investing overseas to shelter their wealth when the shit hits the fan anyway)
posted by Pollomacho at 6:25 AM on March 6, 2008


"I've Been reading about reincarnation, and the buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings, they're just like us. So i say fuck the buddhists."

Being Tibetan isn't necessarily about being Buddhist, you know...
posted by Jimbob at 6:32 AM on March 6, 2008


They'll come to regret having got the Olympic Games...

Aaah the Beijing Olympics will be pulled off without a hitch, as far as the world will see, through the media. They know how to organize things pretty well over there, I think.
posted by Jimbob at 6:34 AM on March 6, 2008


She thought she could organize freedom. How Scandinavian of her.
posted by fidgets at 6:53 AM on March 6, 2008 [11 favorites]


surely, she could've been detained?

performing tuneless, shoddily written pop songs with delusions of intellectual grandeur is not a crime -- neither in China, nor in the rest of the world. Unfortunately.

no matter how many bad pop singers wave the occasional Tibetan flag, China is financing the American wars and manufacturing (very often badly) most of the industrialised world products. hence, China is doing whatever the fuck it wants in Tibet and you can't stop them. mainly because you're probably posting on MeFi with a computer that's made in China, wearing some clothes that are made in China as well. and your TV is made there, too. and if you're American, China owns your monster national debt, too. be thankful they're not the ones breaking your balls hitting American domestic (Katrina) or human rights (Torture) sore spots because they sure have the juice to do that.

tantrums like Bjork's are only that, childish publicity stunts that tell you more about the intelligence of those who throw them -- and their fans' -- than anything else. those of us who are sadly old enough to remember the Tibetan Freedom concerts or whatever they were called in the 1990s, we remember that the greatest acts there were the Smashing Pumpkins and John Lee Hooker (all dead). and freedom for Tibet was supposed to be at hand if you listened to their speeches between songs. nothing happened because singers can't do dick except give some of their hard earned money to a few Buddhist monks and feel better about themselves (and I say this as a Beastie Boys fan)


in short: you're so against China, don't go play there. and invest your time in writing better music instead.
posted by matteo at 7:03 AM on March 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


(oh, you can also lobby your government to cut all ties with China and force corporations to stop exporting jobs there to make a killing off of those Chinese sweatshops and even better, boycott China the way South Africa was boycotted because of apartheid. good luck with that)
posted by matteo at 7:06 AM on March 6, 2008


"The Chinese promoter, Emma Ticketmaster, had made no comment since the concert ended."

Heh.
posted by mariokrat at 7:06 AM on March 6, 2008


Aaah the Beijing Olympics will be pulled off without a hitch, as far as the world will see, through the media. They know how to organize things pretty well over there, I think.

Yeah, if they can get the pollution under control. If however many people show up have to walk around with face masks, it's going to be a huge problem of them.

On the other hand, I think that the Chinese government is going to have to liberalize soon. They trying to create a world of consumers and middle class, but the flipside of that is that the middle class is the untortureable class. They are going to start demanding proper treatment and intellectual freedom unless the Chinese government can keep the Economy growing such that their lives always get better.

The fact that stuff like this is even going on indicates that things are becoming much more liberal.
posted by delmoi at 7:15 AM on March 6, 2008


eah, if they can get the pollution under control. If however many people show up have to walk around with face masks, it's going to be a huge problem of them

... really? Admittedly it's been several years since I was in Beijing, but I don't remember having to walk around in a face mask.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:28 AM on March 6, 2008


... really? Admittedly it's been several years since I was in Beijing, but I don't remember having to walk around in a face mask.

Well, you don't have too, but some US Coaches have been recommending that athletes wear face masks at all times that they're not performing. I can't find the exact article I read, but here is an article about how the British might end up supplying their athletes with face masks if the pollution situation doesn't improve. It might be fine for a spectator, but atheletes are going to want to keep their lungs in tip-top condition. Here is another article about marathon runners potentially wearing them. You can a lot of articles about this.
posted by delmoi at 7:44 AM on March 6, 2008


Bjork's thought on Tibet are as important to me as Lindsay Lohan's.
posted by rocket88 at 7:47 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can we get a NSFE (not safe for epileptics) tag on that first link?
posted by brevator at 8:09 AM on March 6, 2008


Shouting out "Tibet" in the middle of a song called "Declare Independence" is not a non sequitur.

My momma is a non sequitur.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:04 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is no one going to mention that she's done this sort of thing before?
posted by Rangeboy at 9:06 AM on March 6, 2008


You know, the whole shut-up-and-sing subtext behind a lot of these comments is beyond noxious. Moreso if they're tied to the idea that since political music doesn't affect material change, you shouldn't bother writing political music. Or bother making political statements. Or even bother with politics at all if you have a comfortable, upper-middle class life. I could go on. They should all just write tuneful love songs.

Why do we find the need to ridicule celebrities for not being able to start a revolution? Shouldn't we have strung up Bob Dylan countless times by now, by that logic?
posted by Weebot at 9:32 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lose the last three words, and I'm all with you.
posted by cillit bang at 9:44 AM on March 6, 2008


I miss Einar.
posted by everichon at 11:03 AM on March 6, 2008


I love Bjork. Good for her. And any other comments are going to be greeted with a hands in ears la la la from me.

Or else a Sometimes I crawl into the laundry basket and tickle my ears. Sometimes not.
posted by jokeefe at 11:32 AM on March 6, 2008


The shut-up-and-sing arguments hold no substance simply because its got us talking here about the issue. Any press is good press.
posted by mannequito at 12:14 PM on March 6, 2008


Good for her.
posted by homunculus at 12:46 PM on March 6, 2008


everichon, when I saw Bjork tour last year, Einar (with his new group) was the opener. He's also been a remixer of a couple of her recent singles. For what it's worth, he yells a lot more ridiculous things than Bjork, but... he's Einar.
posted by mikeh at 1:30 PM on March 6, 2008


China owns your monster national debt, too.

I'm pretty sure America is going to care a lot more about the injustices in Tibet when China starts spending those dollars.
posted by Citizen Premier at 1:34 PM on March 6, 2008


Okay, 3 things.
  1. It's Shanghai. It's probably the most western of the cities in China (apart from Hong Kong I guess), and has the most expats. I'm surprised if most Chinese have even heard of Bjork, so it's a safe bet to guess that a lot of the people there were foreigners. The guy going "Yeah! Woo!" was definitely a foreigner.
  2. Given that, her speech appeals and seems directed towards her foreigner audience, many of whom are probably sympathetic to the cause of Tibet. I would hazard that most Chinese are not passionate about Tibet's freedom. They probably think that the idea of a free Tibet is sorta ridiculous
  3. As much as I normally support self-determination, and think that the Dali Lama is probably a very decent guy, I don't think the world needs another country run by a religious priesthood. Every history I read about Tibet suggests that the society there prior to becoming part of China was very hierarchical and somewhat feudalistic. I'm not saying that the Chinese government is necessarily an improvement -- far from it -- but to say that the life of Tibetans under the priesthood was idyllic is also incorrect. I think it's more a case of, "We prefer our old oppression, not your new oppression." which I also think is a dynamic in Iraq. But the real problem isn't that Tibet doesn't have its own leader, money, currency, official flag, and little seat in the UN. The problem is that the population of that area is not free to live their lives in the way that they would like. This is true throughout China. No one is really free there, except for, surprise surprise, foreigners. If a Chinese singer said "Free Tibet!" (in Chinese of course) we would not expect him to release any more singles anytime soon. The solution, then, is to push for a free China, not a free Tibet.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:13 PM on March 6, 2008


to say that the life of Tibetans under the priesthood was idyllic is also incorrect. I think it's more a case of, "We prefer our old oppression, not your new oppression."

Do you have even the slightest idea of what you're talking about?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:21 PM on March 6, 2008


Of course not. That's never stopped any other poster. I have only the bare scrapings of a surface understanding of it. But pretty much everything I've read on Tibet says that Tibet was largely feudal with an oppressed underclass. Please, if you know more, enlighten me.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:31 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, the thrust of my comment still stands. The problem in Tibet isn't that they're not their own state. The problem is that the people in Tibet can't exercise the freedoms they ought to be able to. With the possible exception of Scotland and Quebec, you don't see many places where people enjoy total freedom (as much as can exist in this world) wanting to break off from the state; you mostly see it in countries where a group is oppressed and downtrodden. In those cases, part of the reason they want to break free is because they don't believe that they will be allowed to have their freedoms so long as they are part of that state. I think that China can change, but there needs to be a lot of pressure on the Chinese government to change, as well as a recognition among people who are active in these areas that there is oppression going on in more than just Tibet, and that there are atrocities taking place that are worse than Tienanmen was, just less visible.

Also I just don't see the benefit in creating new states. It's our little silly way we've come up with not having to like people living next to us; just put them on the other side of a legal border. I kind of feel like a lot ongoing conflicts in the world are taking place because of the world's insistence on ignoring everything but states from a legal standpoint. I could honestly care less whether I am a resident or citizen of the US, Canada, some country in Europe, etc. So long as I can reasonably speak my mind, get a job, go where I like, hang out with who I want, and be myself, I don't care what the name of the legal entity I am residing in, nor its social history or culture (and by that I don't mean that I don't care about the culture of the people I am surrounded by; I simply don't have any interest in the mythological culture of that state). I suppose that is more important for other people, which is maybe the whole point.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:58 PM on March 6, 2008


Probably would've been a good idea for her to learn how to deliver that short message in Chinese.

She didn't?
posted by 3.2.3 at 5:05 PM on March 6, 2008


The problem in Tibet isn't that they're not their own state. The problem is that the people in Tibet can't exercise the freedoms they ought to be able to.

That is a rather extreme understatement.

Between widespread torture and an immigration policy that looks to many like intentional extermination of a people and a culture, this isn't strictly a self-determination issue, though that would be enough.

Actually, I read something recently that you might be interested in, regarding single-ethnicity states vs. amalgams and how that relates to long-term stability. It certainly changed my mind about a couple of things. I highly recommend it.

But first and foremost, Tibet isn't a stability issue, but a human rights issue. A border can matter a whole lot when your security depends on being on the right side of it. "From a legal standpoint" is pretty far from where these people's concerns are, D.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:07 PM on March 6, 2008


Oh, as for Bjork, it was a hopelessly naive act, but a principled one. Not the worst thing a person can do.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:23 PM on March 6, 2008


Between widespread torture and an immigration policy that looks to many like intentional extermination of a people and a culture, this isn't strictly a self-determination issue, though that would be enough.

So what diferentiates between the way Tibetans are (mis)treated and the way the rest of the Chinese are widely tortured and have internal migration tightly controlled? The answer is that Tibetans have a claim to self-determination while a Fujianese or Hunanese has no claim to seperate from Beijing only overthrow it.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:14 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


tuneless, shoddily written pop songs

I don't want to listen to all her stuff or anything (not my scene at all), but it strikes me that Björk is a great musician. Eccentric, sure, but she has the means to express that eccentricity. Pretentious? Here and there. But there is a big part of her that's pure music; she flicks her little finger and music comes out.

Unlike, you know, crappy little snitches from people who can't play a note but are, like, totally sticking it to the power.
posted by Wolof at 12:00 AM on March 7, 2008


I have only the bare scrapings of a surface understanding of it. But pretty much everything I've read on Tibet says that Tibet was largely feudal with an oppressed underclass.
Deathalicious - I wouldn't set myself up as any expert on Tibetan history either, but I seem to have read a bit more than you and am a little disappointed that you seem effectively to be taking the colonial interpretation of the Beijing regime at face value. I had the pleasure and privilege to work alongside contemporary Tibetan historian Tsering Shakya not long after I graduated (I studied Chinese with Tibetan). Here's a lengthy article by him in response to a Chinese scholar, debating the Cultural Revolution in Tibet (his longer book Dragon in the Land of Snows is enlightening reading too). Notable there is his reference to the spontaneous uprisings that occurred in Tibet in support of the restoration of religion, and the speed with which the Tibetan peasantry sought to restore the religious infrastructure once they had the opportunity in the post-reform 1980s and since (I've seen that for myself). This coupled with the evidence from Ladakh, a Tibetan area that stayed under the rule of democratic independent India, shows that however grim the "feudal" society may have been - and I have certainly seen enough to suggest it had that in abundance - in those places where Tibetan people had the freedom to choose, they preferred many of its structures to external impositions.
And of course this begs the question somewhat, since the exile movement has hardly been politically static. It's not as if they're arguing for a straightforward turning of the clock back - the Dalai Lama's own call now is of course for genuine autonomy within the Chinese state and a democratic system of representation has been developed by the government-in-exile.
I often feel that Tibet is the victim of some of its more annoying advocates. People seem now so desperate not to look like some hippy-dippy romantics that they flip the other way and end up apologising for what remains an example of colonialism. I certainly have far more sympathy for people who show an awareness of the situation that Pollomacho alludes to though, where the rights and sufferings of ordinary Chinese people are taken into account as well. Personally I'd love to see the People's Republic develop into a much looser federation which allowed all regional and ethnic cultures the chance to flourish and grow in their own way. As well as the various flavours of Han culture such as those of Fujian Pollomacho mentions, there are people like the Yi (an ethnic Tibeto-Burman group with a bigger population than Tibetans), Miao, Mongols and many others who would also benefit from increased self-determination.
posted by Abiezer at 3:24 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


For another interesting figure that can show some of the complexity of the history, here's a bit on Bapa Phünsto Wangye, who founded the Tibetan Communist Party. Case Western whose site hoosts that is also home to Melvyn Goldstein, who is one of the best Western authors on modern Tibetan history and anthropology.
posted by Abiezer at 3:30 AM on March 7, 2008


March 10: Call to Action
posted by homunculus at 12:15 PM on March 8, 2008


Olympics clean-up Chinese style: Inside Beijing's shocking death camp for cats
posted by homunculus at 9:19 AM on March 9, 2008


Thanks Abiezer. That's exactly the sort of info that I was looking for. I'm off to read the article...
posted by Deathalicious at 9:40 PM on March 9, 2008


...cool, I did not know that the Dalia Lama is calling for just regional autonomy and not statehood. That sounds a lot more doable, although probably not any time soon with the kind of government in place now. I have to say I find it a bit weird that China is so obsessed both with geographical as well as cultural control of Tibet...it doesn't exactly seem like the most appealing real estate, and the train out there must have cost them a fortune to build.

I think Beijing was in a no-win situation regarding the whole Olympics mascot thing. If they had done regional animals and ignored Tibet, then doubtless some activists would have gotten on their case for "ignoring" a singificant culture and people. Given that, honestly it was a bit retarded (or politically brilliant!--only time will tell) to choose the regional theme for their mascots. I certainly don't think the mascot is going to give them any kind of "legitimacy" over their control over Tibet and anyway, any rudimentary examination of the rules of international law regarding self-determination would show that it's nearly impossible to get external self-determination unless you are a former colony -- and by colony, they basically mean one of the countries, outside of the borders of the colonizing nation, which was colonized by Western powers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I don't honestly think that the Chinese govt cares or believes that their mascot will do anything meaningful. And, from a legal standpoint, it neither cements nor challenges the right of the Tibetan people to their own nation, because unfortunately no such right exists. I personally think that one of the positive effects of the recent wave of globalism, heavily influenced by massive change in how information is communicated, is that States, as units of power, are losing some influence in regards to other players. But this is still pretty minor and gets thrown to hell when States do what they do, like acquiring nuclear bombs or invading other countries. Still, it would be nice to see them matter less, if only so that being an autonomous region would mean that much more.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:06 PM on March 9, 2008


Oh and yeah, I agree with pollomacho. The Chinese government is honestly nice to no one except its party leaders and foreigners. Some rich Chinese are doing quite well, and obviously those in Tibet are suffering more than average. But these are all symptoms of a larger problem of the lack of fundamental rights in China. If Tibetans were allowed to freely express their religion and live free of fear, discrimination, and military control, they probably would not care so much about their "border". Even if it is just my American upbringing I cannot help but be skeptical of arguments regarding ethnonationalism. Obviously such sentiments exist and can make themselves to be quite powerful agents in historical struggles. Still, I can't help but wonder about why, and under what circumstances, certain ethnic conflicts magically seem to bubble up to the surface, and how some people somehow manage to be in the right place at the right time to harness those feelings.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:12 PM on March 9, 2008


Greek police block Tibetan activists Freedom Torch Relay at Ancient Olympia
posted by homunculus at 4:41 PM on March 10, 2008


Greek police block Tibetan activists Freedom Torch Relay at Ancient Olympia

Marathon world record holder won't run that event in the Olympics coz the place is too freaken dirty
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:49 PM on March 10, 2008


Monks Staged Bold Protest in Tibet
posted by homunculus at 12:41 PM on March 11, 2008


Tibetans protest San Francisco's hosting of Olympic torch
posted by homunculus at 12:43 PM on March 11, 2008


Protest inside Tibet captured on tourists' cameras
posted by homunculus at 3:03 PM on March 12, 2008


Monks under siege in monasteries as protest ends in a hail of gunfire
posted by homunculus at 4:48 PM on March 12, 2008


The Guardian: "The Tibetan capital of Lhasa was on the brink of chaos today as the fiercest anti-government protests in almost 20 years erupted into violence between Chinese security forces and protesters wielding iron bars."

Protesters credited Björk for adding new urgency to their cause.

(OK, I made that last part up.)
posted by grouse at 7:19 AM on March 14, 2008


Tibetan protests in Lhasa turn violent as Chinese forces crack down
posted by homunculus at 1:17 PM on March 14, 2008


I am currently in Dharmasala where word on the street is that 200 more Tibetans have been killed this morning following the protests in Lhasa. There is a strange energy in this place. Last night, exiled Tibetans took to the streets of McLeod Ganj carrying candles and practiced a peaceful demonstration which led them through the streets, singing and chanting, until arriving at the main temple. There the people of Little Lhasa assembled to mourn the loss of their fellow people still in Lhasa fighting for the autonomy they deserve. Although I could not understand the language, the despair in the voices of those who came forward to speak transcending any language or cultural barriers and the entire demonstration was emotionally overwhelming to even the most stoic individual.

Realize that those belittling the actions of Björk are completely missing the point and conversely belittling the Tibetan cause.

After the initial speeches, a video projector was hooked up, and there for all the Tibetan refugees to see were videos from around the world showing recent acts of protest and the repressive forces that respond to them. Belgium, Delhi, Nepal, Canada. Each resistance march yielded an applause and a sense of strength that around the world people care, and are beginning to creatively make a difference. Replacing the Chinese flag with the Tibetan flag was one example, storming the Chinese embassy in Delhi was another. One of the last videos shown was Björk singing Declare Independance in Shanghai. And through the terrible sound quality and choppy shots of green laser light was a sense of solidarity that a famous non-Tibetan, in the heart of their enemy, was taking a stand in one of the most repressive nations on our planet, and was challenging the Chinese government. A Tibetan unable to control his emotions shouted out in a moment of silence.

"FUCK YOU CHINA!"

A fury of "shhhhs!" and "tsk-tsk" followed from the devout Buddhists in the front of the temple. The Dalai Lama did not attend this protest although he is in town. In fact, the Chinese government accusing him of rousing up the rioters in Lhasa are completely off the mark. His choice not to attend the rally a statement of his firm belief in non-violent protest, and although he condemns the Chinese governments outright inhumane treatment of other human beings, the violence in Lhasa is not something he will endorse from either side.

It really is a tragedy, and the situation is undoubtedly a necessary step at this crucial time in the world where the spotlight will fall on Beijing this summer. I think the Olympic games is a perfect oppurtunity for the regular citizen to let China know that the world is watching, the world knows what the Empire is doing, and that the world supports a free Tibet. I know I will be in China this summer, and figures like Björk are an inspiration and a motivation to stand up the powers that be.
posted by ageispolis at 11:37 PM on March 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Tibet: more deaths, injuries in Lhasa as crackdown grows
posted by homunculus at 9:43 AM on March 15, 2008


The president of the International Olympic Committee rejected the idea of boycotting the Summer Games in Beijing over China's crackdown in Tibet, saying it would only hurt athletes.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:12 PM on March 15, 2008


He would say that. The IOC always says crap like that, honestly.
posted by grouse at 2:54 AM on March 16, 2008


The IOC always says crap like that, honestly.

I'm tellin' ya. Jeezus, as if "hurting athletes" is the worst possible scenario. God I hate the Olympics.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:36 AM on March 16, 2008


Reuters:
China will tighten its controls over foreign singers and other performers after Icelandic singer Bjork shouted "Tibet! Tibet!" at a Shanghai concert last weekend, the Ministry of Culture said on Friday.

Bjork chanted the name of the Chinese-ruled Himalayan region after performing her song "Declare Independence", which she has used in the past to promote independence movements in other places such as Kosovo.

The performance "not only broke Chinese laws and regulations and hurt the feelings of Chinese people, but also went against the professional code of an artist," the ministry said in a statement quoted by the official Xinhua news agency.</blockquote.
posted by grouse at 9:58 AM on March 16, 2008


The Dalai Lama did not attend this protest although he is in town.

What an effing surprise. The guy is a jetsetting fraud. Pass the fricken lobster, hey willya, Dalai!?

"Whether intentionally or unintentionally, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place," said the Dalai Lama...

Unintentionally? How weak as piss can you get?


And to all you Bjork lovers: I see your point but I disagree. It's the same stupid attitude that makes heroes out of scumbags like Michael Moore and Ray "Nagin for President!" Nagin.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:54 PM on March 16, 2008


What has Bjork unleashed?
posted by From Bklyn at 3:45 AM on March 18, 2008


Young Tibetans reject Dalai Lama's lead.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:52 AM on March 18, 2008


Tibet: nearly 1,000 jailed in Lhasa, Dalai Lama offers to resign
posted by homunculus at 4:13 PM on March 18, 2008


The demonstrations in Dharmasala have escalated dramatically over the past few days. There is a group of monks seated in front of the temple on their eighth day of a hunger strike. Tibets have arrived from Jammu & Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, to even Nepal.

The protests are relentless, but peaceful. About one hundred Tibetans left Dharmasala for Tibet on foot but were apparently arrested by Indian police. Now, fifty more have left Dharmasala and are maching straight for Tibet and have yet to be stopped. Even as I type this a mob of two hundred Monks are marching by this Internet café bearing Tibetan flags and shouting, "China China China! Out Out Out! Wake Up, Wake Up, U.N.O!"

Here are some pictures of yesterday evening's demonstration.

CNN is putting a terrible spin on the issue, weighing it out like a cultural/political feud between the leadership of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government.
posted by ageispolis at 2:08 AM on March 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Buddhism for Sale
posted by homunculus at 9:40 AM on March 19, 2008


Oh Bjork, Bjork. Were you brought by a stork? Or were you created from butter and cork? I love you so much I act like a dork. Oh Bjork... oh Bjork... oh Bjork...
posted by rusty at 12:51 PM on March 19, 2008


If the Hoff can bring down the Berlin Wall, Bjork can free Tibet.
posted by owhydididoit at 6:50 PM on March 19, 2008


« Older I wanted to call you tonight. Predictably enough I...  |  Richard Feynman needs his oran... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments